Saturday, 20 April 2013

Managing your teaching staff

This was the title of the second in a series of monthly CPD webinars hosted by the British Council.  You can read more about the programme here.

The full title of this webinar was 'Managing your teaching staff - how to keep a staff motivated, challenged and developing professionally.  It was presented by Fiona Dunlop and what follows is a summary of what she had to say.

Fiona began by telling us that getting to know our teachers is the key to our success.  There are various ways of getting to know our staff and finding out what motivates them:

  • informal and active listening - just being around the staff room.
  • teacher feedback - using Survey Monkey, for example or by conducting entry and exit interviews.
  • student feedback.
  • PD interviews - setting development goals and conducting appraisals.
  • informal regular meetings.
  • interactions at workshops.
  • structured classroom observation programmes.
  • meetings using the British Council framework for CPD.  This is not a linear framework - no development can be.  We need to ask teachers to identify where they think they are in terms of their own development.
The CPD page of the English Agenda site from the British Council has lots of useful information to help, including:
  • a handbook for managers
  • a handbook for teachers
  • a framework for CPD
  • a portal with advice, suggestions and video clips

The British Council CPD Framework
  • is an 'all staff' tool with an individual focus.
  • provides guidance for managers and teachers.
  • provides objectivity in appraisals and meetings.
  • lays the foundation for a joined-up CPD programme and appraisal system.
  • suggests individual and achievable goals for staff.
  • allows teachers to identify areas for development which would be of interest to them.  (A calendar of workshops alone is not sufficient - some teachers may not like workshops, but may be good at research, for example.)
  • encourages teachers to take responsibility for their own development and wider career pathway.
English Agenda as a whole opens up a larger community of ELT professionals to our teachers and ourselves.  It's a great way to network.


Observations serve two purposes:
  1. Quality assurance/control
  2. CPD
Traditional, formal observations are needed for QA purposes and to give us an idea of what a new teacher is like when they first join our organisation, but all observations should have a developmental element.  We owe it to our teachers to make them comfortable with observations.

Developmental Observation Types

1.  Unobserved - rather than someone going into the class, the teacher does their own observation.  
  • The teacher writes the plan and does all of the preparation as if they were going to be observed.  
  • The teacher discusses the plan and any anticipated problems with the manager before the lesson.
  • The teacher delivers the lesson.
  • The manager and the teacher meet afterwards to discuss what happened in the lesson.
The process should be taken seriously with times scheduled for pre- and post- observation meetings.

2.  Filmed/recorded - this needs to be structured and a record kept to show that development has been achieved.
  • With the consent of the students, the camera can be turned on them.  It's good for teachers to see how their lesson is received.
  • The recording can be listened to or watched back together with the manager or by the teacher alone.
3.  Paired peer - peer observations need to be structured with both pre- and post- observation meetings taking place between the colleagues.  There should be no pressure and no threat.  Both the observer and the observee should learn from the experience.

4.  10 minute - during induction, the manager watches the new teacher and, on the basis of what he sees, he recommends four or five other teachers to go and see for ten minutes each.  In this way, the new teacher gets a real feel for the school.

5.  Short burst/repeated theme - this type of observation is used to work on a specific area.  The teacher invites the manager or a peer to come into his class several times over several weeks in order to work on one particular aspect of his teaching.

Action Research

This lends itself to more experienced or stagnant teachers.  There are several stages involved in action research and all stages need to be guided by the manager.
  1. Self observation with a detailed lesson plan - a holistic view.
  2. Identify one area of teaching to focus on.
  3. Self observe again with a focus on that particular area - What do you like?  What could you do better?
  4. Take time to think (2 weeks or a month) about how to improve/develop.  Do research.  Read.  Talk to colleagues.  Observe your peers.  Talk to your academic manager.  Write a blog.
  5. Try out and experiment with new ideas.  Go outside your comfort zone.
  6. Analyse your performance again.  Keep detailed records.
  7. Make a deduction.
  8. Incorporate what you have learned into everyday teaching.
  9. Do further, in-depth research and pass your findings on in the form of a teaching seminar in-house and/or at a teachers' conference.  Or write an article.
  10. From this, set a teaching goal and a PD goal to be achieved in a given time.
The whole process of action research can take three, six or, even, nine months.  It should never be imposed on teachers.  It is up to the teacher to get involved.

  • Think of three different teachers you know and manage.
  • Which observation types would be suitable for them?  Why?
  • How would you set the observations up?
  • Now approach them and ask them what they think.
  • Spend time getting to know your teaching team and what motivates them to continue learning and developing.
  • Introduce the staff to different forms of developmental observations.
  • Use an objective framework such as the British Council one to guide and support teachers and managers.
  • Ensure there is a clear school ethos and management belief in learning and development.
  • Reflect regularly on the CPD systems of the organisation with all relevant staff members.
A motivated and
developing teaching staff

Internal customer
satisfaction (teachers)
External customer
satisfaction (students)

A well-rounded

learning organisation

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